Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
As we remember and celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ it is important that we remember and renew the vows once spoken at our baptisms, either by our parents or by us — that time when we were washed of our sins and received the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Since many of us were baptized as infants it is important for us to remember what God did for us in our baptism, to renounce our sinful life and once again embrace the godly life of a Spirit-filled Christian. Even though we may have done this many times it is important to renew those vows again.
During the season of Epiphany, we will review not only the Baptism of Jesus and renew our Baptismal Vows, we will follow Jesus in his preparation for his earthly ministry and the calling of his disciples. It is a wonderful time for us to review our calling by God and renew our vows of answering God’s call to discipleship.
Divine light shines forth from this Child Jesus, which is the transparency of God in the world. The divine light that shines in the Child is not a foreign light to the earth. It is the Light at the heart of all life. It is the Light from which all things come. If this Light were extracted from the universe, everything would cease to exist. So this is a story about the Light of God which is at the heart of everything, the Light at the heart of you and me. This Light is Jesus, and we begin to see that light more clearly through our human eyes during this season of Epiphany as we follow Jesus from his Baptism in the Jordan into the wilderness to be tested and into his ministry.
Up until this moment, Jesus has been indistinguishable from the rest of the mass of humanity. Now Epiphany reveals the meaning of his life and mission. He is the light that comes directly from heaven. The Spirit, in the form of the dove, descends and rests on him as people watch. But only Jesus apparently hears the Voice – or at least, it is directed only to him: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased!” His baptism is his commitment to live out the reality of the Kingdom of God in the world in all of his daily life. It is a commitment to another way – to God’s Way. And God is well pleased! That is what our baptisms also mean for us. We are to live out the reality of the Kingdom of God in our daily lives.
Our own baptism into Christ is the means by which we, too, die and rise again to new life. The old order is renounced and dies. It is a statement of our repentance. The old order of our lives dies. Yet we are not lost in death, because God is the God of resurrection. So we rise to a new life and a new order. Nothing – not even death – can defeat God’s purposes.
Have you claimed your new life in Christ through your baptism?
Are you discovering God’s purposes for you?
Can you write down what your baptism means to you, for your life and others?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.